Turnover at Lakeland was up 5.3% to £141.9m in the year to December 31 2009, while pre-tax profit leapt 140% to £10.1m from £4.2m the previous year.
The kitchenware and home solutions retailer ended its financial year with almost £8.5m of cash in the business – over the previous four years, the most it had managed was £1.8m. It also paid down a huge amount of debt, reducing bank loans and overdrafts from £2.6m in 2008 to zero.
“There’s no secret factor there,” finance and retail director Bob Granger told HousewaresLive.net’s sister title DIY Week. “It’s all down to good trading. We’ve always been quite careful with our financing. Some companies like to live quite close to the edge, whereas we like to live a bit more cautiously. It means that, particularly in the current climate, we relish the fact that we’re the master of our own destiny.”
He said Lakeland was “obviously pleased” with the year-end results. “It’s a big increase in our sales and our profits and that’s where we’d want to be. For us it’s been about focusing on the fundamentals and the first of those is customer service. We have a lot of very loyal shoppers and we don’t take that loyalty for granted.”
Lakeland topped the table for customer service in Which? magazine’s Top of the Shops 2010 survey this year, an award Granger described as “a great accolade for all our colleagues across the company”.
The other fundamental, he said, was product innovation. “We work very hard to make sure we always have something new on the shelves that will make our customers say ‘Wow, I’ve got to have one’. If you get the basics right the results will hopefully follow.”
Star performers within the stores have been baking and preserving products, an electric cupcake maker, silicone egg poachers, a portable barbecue and a pineapple corer and slicer.
The 48-strong chain opened more new stores in 2010 than in any previous full year.
Belfast and Witney, Oxfordshire, were launched in March, Kingston in May, Cheltenham in June, Epsom opened this week, Meadowhall is tabled for October, and November will see a store open in Llanelli.
A franchising partner saw a Lakeland open in Dubai in March and in Bahrain last week, and a Qatar store is set to open in January. Four stores opened in the 2009 period – Beverley, Chelmsford, Durham and Reading.